Careers

ME & MY CAREER

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Charleen French and Charisse Kenion are two former Hair and Beauty Editors and the brains behind soHairObsessed.com, the hottest website on the block solely dedicated to hair inspiration and beauty trends. Afua Adom asks them how they kick started their new careers and reveals the secrets to their success.

CHARLEEN FRENCH:
We started soHairObsessed because we were both made redundant. We decided to start an online hair and beauty magazine because we felt it was needed. It might sound corny but we get excited about hair and beauty. We love buying magazines and for us, hair and beauty is the most accessible way to express yourself and follow trends. It had to be online because, previously working in both consumer and trade magazines, we know that things are moving in that direction. Most women consume media on their way to work on their phone, on their iPad, we only have snippets of the day and online is just perfect for that. An online magazine is also a great way to integrate with social media because we can kind of build up a community who we call our Glossettes. We will eventually go in to print, that’s definitely always been part of the plan. Print will be like a present for our following so it has to be something amazing. For now we want to work on the website and get that great then we can use that as a springboard for any print activity that we do.

When we started out we had to learn to fund ourselves because no one was going to hand us money. We set up soObsessedBespoke which is agency that provides social media, PR and writing for magazines. Initially we had to raise more than £10,000 so everything we earned from the agency we put into the site. It took from June to January to raise the money but we were paying things off as we went along so all in all it’s taken us a year and a bit to square things off.

I’m the Commercial Director so I deal with all the financial matters and Charrise is the Creative Director so she deals with a lot of the clients and the creative side of the websites. Make sure if you are starting a business with someone that the person you’re working with is the ying to your yang and that you can both compliment each other’s skills. You can’t have egos because you have to be focused on your end goal.

CHARISSE KENION:
When you start a website you have to think about the things you like and be very clear on this. Web design has a practical side and a beautiful side, so you can’t get carried away with the beautiful side without it being practical. We started by drawing a wireframe on a piece a paper, of every single click on the website to plan our users’ journey. It’s important to consider how things are placed. For example, all the important things need to go at the top of the page because some people might not want to scroll down. The most important part is working with a web designer and a digital creative team that get what you’re doing. The first thing we did was we set up all the social media platforms for the website so people knew we were coming and when we were launching. Being in the industry already we had a little following but still our social media had to be on point for people to come to our website. Our site also has built in search engine technology that codes everything so when people are searching for things our site comes up. Our aim is to get on the first page of Google but it is so difficult and expensive. It’s all about having keywords like Rihanna, Kim K and knowing what people want to know about.

Our website is based on advertising revenue so that’s anything from banner ads to paid for competitions. When you start off it’s easy for brands to come to you and say well if you do this for free we will think about it. You have to really be tough, know your worth and give your consumers advertisements that are relevant. For us, launching things like a men’s section or top-to-toe section keeps things fresh because technology is constantly updating. It’s not a cheap thing to do which means for our site to be the best it’s going to need constant investment.

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